What is melasma?

Melasma is a pigmentary disorder with irregularly bordered brown to tan patches forming on the face. 

Who gets melasma?

Melasma occurs most often in women and is more common in patients of Asian and Hispanic decent.

What causes melasma?

Melasma occurs on sun exposed sites of the body. It worsens with continued sun exposure and improves with sun avoidance.  There is some some hormonal influence given melasma occurs most often in patients on oral contraceptive pills and during pregnancy. Hormonal influences are not required because albeit less common, melasma can also occur in men.

What are treatment options for melasma?

Sun protection is vital for successful treatment of melasma.  Melasma can be recalcitrant to treatment and any progress made with topical, oral or laser therapies is lost if the affected sites are re-exposed to the sun.  Sun protection with broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher preferably containing at least 5% zinc, broad brimmed hats, UV protective sunglasses and other sun safety measures should be immediately implemented.  

Topical treatments for melasma are aimed at slowing or halting pigment production by melanocytes and fading existing pigment in the skin.  A consultation with Dr. Campbell is best given the wide array of treatment options available.

Laser therapies work to break up existing pigment in the skin, but extreme caution must be used.  Melasma can easily worsen with laser treatments.

There has been increased use of tranexamic acid for melasma topically and orally.  Dr. Campbell can discuss with you if this is an appropriate option.